Treating Marijuana Addiction: Dr. Kevin M. Gray


[Music] [Dr. Gray speaking] My research team is currently conducting a
clinical trial of a medication called N-acetylcysteine, which also is more commonly known and simply
known as NAC. This is a medication that we believe may have
potential as a treatment for substance use disorders and marijuana use disorders in specific. My research team here at MUSC with funding
from NIDA conducted a trial in marijuana-dependent adolescents comparing NAC versus placebo in
adolescents who were undergoing an 8-week treatment. Everybody got a behavioral treatment known
as contingency management, and they were followed for 8 weeks and randomized to either take
NAC or placebo for those 8 weeks. We found those that received NAC actually
had more than twice the likelihood of achieving abstinence during treatment compared with
those who were randomized to placebo. What we’re interested in doing now is following
up on that adolescent trial, which was a relatively small sample of 116 adolescents. We’re now hoping to replicate those findings
or find if those findings hold true in an adult sample. This is a trial that we’re doing in conjunction
with a number of collaborators across the U.S. This is being conducted in the NIDA Clinical
Trials Network, and it’s in progress across six sites, across the United States, and I’m
fortunate to collaborate with a number of very bright investigators and very productive
study teams. We actually are going to enroll a total of
300 adult participants ages 18 to 50 who meet criteria for marijuana or cannabis dependence
and are seeking treatment. And so these are individuals who recognize
that their use of marijuana is causing impairments and are seeking out treatment to help with
reduction or cessation in use. This is a 12-week placebo-controlled trial
of NAC, which means that all participants will in what we call a double-blind fashion
such that the researchers and clinical team, but also the participant doesn’t know whether
they’re receiving NAC or placebo. We’re hypothesizing that those who are randomized
to receive NAC will be more likely to achieve marijuana abstinence during treatment than
those who receive placebo. What’s exciting about this and doing this
through the Clinical Trials Network is we’re able to run 300 participants really in the
matter of just over a year, which is really a very fast pace compared with traditional
studies that might be at one site and they take a longer period of time. So, we’re excited to be positioned to very
rapidly answer this question and address what really is an emerging public health need,
which is providing more efficacious treatments for marijuana dependence.

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